California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Mark Ghilarducci today released a public service announcement, “Price Gouging is Not Only Wrong, It’s Illegal”, encouraging members of the public to be vigilant against any illegal price gouging in the wake of natural disasters that have affected thousands of Californians. They remind all Californians that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal under Penal Code Section 396 and encourage them to report potential price gouging to the Attorney General’s website or call (800) 952-5225, or to contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.
“Price gouging during a state of emergency isn’t just wrong, it’s against the law,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We need all Californians to look out for their friends and neighbors as they get back on their feet. One important way we can do this is by addressing any potential disaster-related price gouging on essentials like housing, medical supplies, and food. I am proud to collaborate with Director Ghilarducci and partners throughout the state who are working tirelessly to protect hardworking Californians at every stage in this recovery.”
“California is continually at risk from wildfire and other natural disasters,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “Preying on disaster survivors is low and it’s unconscionable for the survivors of wildfire to fall victim to price gouging. If you see something suspicious with prices of essential goods in wildfire or disaster impacted areas, please report it immediately.”
California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency, in the area affected by the emergency. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business.